Monday, September 04, 2006

Tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes

It’s Labor Day weekend, which is usually our time for doing a few things we haven’t done yet. I had been thinking of the Seneca Park Zoo and/or Seabreeze, as well as doing some grilling.

But noooo ... we’re all battling bugs, one with a crusty eye, another with a sore throat, and another with a chesty cough. The weather hasn’t cooperated either – Saturday and Sunday were gloomy and rainy, and today is a little better with the sun occasionally peeking from behind the clouds.

I had planned to make spiedies -- a local grilled specialty that I’ll write about another time. Instead, I decided to figure out what to do with the tomatoes from my garden and CSA bag. I decided on tomato sauce.

I found in my files a recipe called Classic Tomato Sauce from Donna Hay, who’s a cookbook author from Australia. I don’t have any of her cookbooks, but they look really nice.

My only problem with recipe was that it called for 12 tomatoes or 4 (14 oz) cans. I had 10 tomatoes – some really large, and a couple really small – and it would have been helpful if the recipe indicated how much the tomatoes should weigh. So I peeled, seeded, and chopped the tomatoes and weighed them. They were around three pounds. Because the four cans of tomatoes added up to a little more than that, I added one can of chopped tomatoes.

In the end, the results were pretty good. Next time, I’d leave out the red wine, because I really wanted to highlight the tomato flavor. If I decide I want a red wine flavor, I can add it in when I’m using the sauce. Here’s a paraphrase of the recipe, with my notes:

Classic Tomato Sauce

From “New Food Fast” by Donna Hay

12 tomatoes or 4 (14 oz) cans peeled tomatoes, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil)
1 clove garlic, crushed (I chopped it)
2 small onions, chopped (mine were really small)
1 cup (8 fl oz) red wine (I used a California Merlot. As I said, I wouldn’t use it again.)
2 Tablespoons chopped oregano, basil, or marjoram leaves (I used oregano and basil from my garden)
Cracked black pepper and sea salt

If using fresh tomatoes, peel and chop them. (I also seeded them.)

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan (I used a dutch oven) over medium to high heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, wine, herbs, pepper and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes if using canned tomatoes and 35 minutes if using fresh. (Because my family likes a smooth sauce, I cooled and used a stick blender to puree.)

Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 4-5 months.

Happy Labor Day!

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